Category Archives: USA Hockey

CANTLON’S CORNER: OFF-SEASON WEEK 17 SEES NEW YORK RANGERS PUT ON THEIR “VESEY” BEST

gerry-150x130BY: Gerry Cantlon, Howlings

HARTFORD, CT – We’re getting closer and closer to the return of hockey to Hartford, but the New York Rangers made their most important free agent signing this week.

VESEY SIGNS WITH THE RANGERS

The Rangers landed the top collegiate free agent in the nation.

The list of suitors for 23-year old, Jimmy Vesey’s services included the New York Islanders, the New Jersey Devils, the Boston Bruins, the Toronto Maple Leafs, the Buffalo Sabres, the Chicago Blackhawks, and the Stanley Cup champion, Pittsburgh Penguins and Chicago. Surprisingly, the Detroit Red Wings were not in the mix.

Reports stated that the Islanders captain, John Tavares, Penguins captain Sidney Crosby and Blackhawks forward Patrick Kane, all reportedly personally contacted Vesey and made their pitch.

Capture

Vesey had 46 points (24 goals, 22 assists) in 33 games as a senior at Harvard University last season where he won the 2016 Hobey Baker Award, given to the top NCAA player.

Vesey had been a third-round pick (No. 66) of the Nashville Predators at the 2012 NHL Draft, and the Predators hoped to sign him after his season at Harvard ended in March, offering Vesey a spot among their top six forwards heading into the Stanley Cup Playoffs.

Nashville traded Vesey’s rights to the Buffalo Sabres for a third-round pick in the 2016 draft on June 20. The Sabres had exclusive negotiating rights with Vesey until Tuesday when he became an unrestricted free agent.

Vesey, considered to be an NHL-ready player, had had 144 points (80 goals, 64 assists) in 128 games in four seasons at Harvard. He also had three assists in nine games to help the United States win the bronze medal at the 2015 IIHF World Championship.

RANGERS SIGNING

The Rangers added their 18th defenseman to the organization’s depth chart when they signed, the 6-0, 190-pound, John Gilmour to a free agent deal out of Providence College. The deal is a two-year, two-way ($742,500K-NHL/$70K-AHL) deal. The Rangers now have 47 of the 50 contracted players they are allowed under the CBA. The team’s total salary stands at $70.5 million, and they have just about $2.5M cap space remaining.

Gilmour was a Calgary Flames seventh round draft pick in 2014, but the Flames, with an abundance of defenseman, chose not to offer him a contract, despite having a good shot, hits well and played on the Friars NCAA championship squad two years ago and completed all four seasons.

Gilmour, 23, skated in 34 games with Providence College this past season, where he registered nine goals and 14 assists for 23 points, along with a plus-three rating, his best numbers as a Friar along with 18 penalty minutes for the Hockey East school. Gilmour uses his stick well and ranks fifth among NCAA defensemen in power play points (16), and is tied for fifth among NCAA defensemen in power play assists (12), and tied for eighth among NCAA defensemen in goals and power play goals (four) during his senior season.
Also, Gilmour recorded 16 points (seven goals, nine assists) against Hockey East opponents in 2015-16, helping Providence post a 16-3-3 record in intra-conference games.

He skated in 141 career collegiate games over four seasons where he compiled 22 goals and 43 assists for 65 points, along with a plus-eight rating and 85 penalty minutes. In his four years, Providence posted a record of 81-42-18 in the games in which Gilmour played. He maintained a plus/minus rating of even or better in each of his four seasons with Providence.

*Contract numbers and cap numbers come from www.generalfanager.com

WOLF PACK AND AHL SCHEDULE ANNOUNCED

Finally, the summer soap opera of the AHL schedule release has ended as the league posted its 2016-17 season Monday afternoon.

The Wolf Pack open their 20th anniversary season at home on Saturday, October 14th against the St. John’s IceCaps for the second season in a row. This is the last season in the AHL for St. John’s as the Montreal Canadiens will move their farm team to Laval, Quebec next season where they will play at the brand new Place Bell Centre.

The Wolf Pack schedule features five dates in October with the team’s second game also against St. John’s. The IceCaps start their season with six road games while the Pack play just two.

The Pack’s traditional early season school day game is against the Lehigh Valley Phantoms on November 2nd at 11:00am.

The Pack will play just 14 of the 30 AHL teams with 52 games in the Atlantic Division. Springfield and Providence will play the Pack the most with ten games apiece. The pack will face the other four teams, Hershey, Lehigh Valley, Wilkes-Barre/Scranton and Bridgeport eight times each.

The other 24 games of their 76 games will be against the North Division who’ll likely make a difference because of the crossover playoff system. The team found out last season just how important those games were when they missed out on the playoffs by six points. They will play all of the teams four times each except Syracuse who they play just twice.

Twelve home games are on Fridays with a new starting time of 7:15 pm to accommodate for the traffic issues on I-91 and I-84.

The Pack home portion of the season concludes on Saturday, April 8th against Wilkes-Barre/Scranton and the last four games of the season will be on the road in Bridgeport, Albany, Utica and will close out the season in Springfield on Saturday, April 15.

Find the Wolf Pack schedule HERE.

Find the complete AHL team-by-team schedule HERE

Note to the AHL-we all realize we have a bifurcated league now.

The AHL should release the Eastern conference schedule in July since there are no NBA building conflicts that they’re playing in and then release the Western conference schedule in August after Cleveland and San Antonio get their NBA schedules for their buildings.

Waiting like this is not good for the fans, horrendous for each team’s sales staff and doesn’t help with the league’s image.

PRE-SEASON SCHEDULE

The Wolf Pack will have a slate of three preseason games, of which two of them are home contests as they prepare for the 2016-17 season.

On Wednesday, October 5, the Wolf Pack host their in-state and divisional rivals, the Bridgeport Sound Tigers. The game takes place at Trinity College’s Koeppel Community Sports Center and starts at 7 pm. Donations will be accepted at the door instead of an admission charge. That money will benefit the Ryan Gordon / Hartford Wolf Pack Community Scholar’s Fund.

The fund memorializes young fan Ryan Gordon, who passed away in 2006 and asked that a portion of the monies set aside for his college education be donated to the Hartford Wolf Pack Community Foundation. Suggested donation is $5 per person.

The Koeppel Community Sports Center is located at 175 New Britain Ave. in Hartford.

The Wolf Pack’s lone road preseason outing will be a trip to the MassMutual Center in Springfield for their first meeting with the newly minted Springfield Thunderbirds who this year are the affiliates of the Florida Panthers. That game takes place on Saturday, October 8, at 7:00 pm.

The Pack concludes their preseason action with a home game on Sunday, October 9 at Champion’s Skating Center in Cromwell, CT, which is also their practice facility during the season. The game is a 1:00 pm battle with the Albany Devils, with a $5 admission charge benefitting Whalers Youth Hockey. Champions Skating Center is located at 6 Progress Drive in Cromwell Exit 21 off I-91.

HARTFORD WOLF PACK PRESEASON SCHEDULE

Date                 Opponent             Venue Faceoff
Wed. Oct. 5   BRIDGEPORT   KOEPPEL COMMUNITY SPORTS CENTER,                                                                           TRINITY COLLEGE 7:00 pm

Sat. Oct. 8       at Springfield     MassMutual Center 7:00 pm

Sun. Oct. 9     ALBANY               CHAMPION’S SKATING CENTER, CROMWELL,                                                                  CT 1:00 pm

*Portions of the Wolf Pack press releases were used in the previous three segments.

ON THE MOVE

Joining Gilmour and Jimmy Vesey on the list of NCAA players who’ve signed their first pro contracts is Thomas DiPauli from Notre Dame, who inked a deal with Wilkes-Barre/Scranton.

That makes 192 players to have signed a North American pro contract including 41 underclassmen since the college regular season and post-season ended.

Several ex-players are getting into the coaching, scouting and management side of hockey.

Congrats to J.F. Labbe, the Wolf Pack Calder Cup winning goalie and AHL Hall of Famer. Labbe is going to be coaching goaltending for two teams in two different leagues this season that is probably a first in hockey.

He is set to begin his third year with the QMJHL Sherbrooke Phoenix, but he was named late last week as the Anaheim Ducks developmental goalie coach and will be in San Diego two weeks a month during the season working with their prospects with the AHL Gulls.

Ex-Pack Mike Mottau is the new scout with the Chicago Blackhawks. Jim Sandlak, the ex-Whaler, switches as a scout from Vancouver to Anaheim while Jim Mill, a Hartford native and former AHL VP, switches scouting from Minnesota to New Jersey.

Nolan Pratt, the former Beast of New Haven and Hartford Whaler, is the new assistant coach in Colorado. With Patrick Roy’s sudden exit, the Avalanche need a head coach. Pratt was a part of Lake Erie’s (nee Cleveland) Calder Cup winning squad.

Another Beast of New Haven alumni, Ryan Johnson, was promoted to Assistant Director of Player Development with Vancouver.

Former Whalers who were assistant coaches in Boston have new gigs. Doug Houda with Detroit and Doug Jarvis in Vancouver.

Former Pack goalie David LeNeveu is using his Ivy League education well as President and part of an ownership group that includes former NHL goalie Kelly Hrudey of the Nanaimo Clippers (BCHL).  The British Columbia Hockey League is one of the 10 Junior A leagues in Canada that US Division I colleges recruit heavily from.

LeNeveu and Dov-Grumet Morris helped rescue the Wolf Pack three seasons ago from finishing dead last and were probably the smartest goaltending duo in AHL history with a combined IQ of something like 5,000!

Jeff Woywitka, the former CT Whale defenseman, and a Ranger was named assistant coach for the Sherwood Park Crusaders (AJHL)-Alberta Junior Hockey League.

Ex-Sound Tigers are starting out in the Junior B league level in Canada. Jean

Jean Bourbeau was named assistant coach with the Columbia Valley Rockets (KIJHL)-Kootenay International Junior Hockey League. The head coach and GM of the team are the one-time former Sound Tiger goalie star, Wade Dubliewicz.

Ruffian extraordinaire with Bridgeport Pascal Morency was named assistant coach with the Fernie Ghostriders (KIJHL).

Former Ranger and Nighthawk from the 1980’s, Raimo Heminen, has landed as an assistant coach with Jokert Helsinki (Finland-KHL). Last season Heminen was fired a month into the season along with the entire staff at Barys Astana (Kazakhstan-KHL) and then lasted just two months with Dynamo Riga (Latvia-KHL).

Alex Westlund, the former Wolf Pack, and Yale University goalie becomes the goalie coach with Medvescak Zagreb (Croatia-KHL). Last season he had the same position with Augusburger (Germany-DEL).

Jim Setters, a one-time Nighthawk, becomes the new head coach for the Lithuania National U-20 Team that competes in the IIHF Division II level in Group A with fellow Baltic state country Estonia, Croatia, the Netherlands, and Romania. He has been the head coach of Germany’s U-20 and U-20 teams over the past 20 years.

Next year’s AHL team in Laval, Quebec that will be the Canadiens top farm team has narrowed the team nicknames from twenty to three finalists. The names that fans will a have a choice to select are Patriotes, Rapids, and Rocket.

Ex-Pack Conor Allen, who played with three teams last season starting in Milwaukee as an assistant captain, before being traded to Binghamton, had a very rough year.  At the trade deadline, Allen found himself with the Iowa Wild – the worst team in the AHL last season. He has signed a one-year deal with Grand Rapids who along with San Antonio have made some of the most moves in the off-season and should have a stronger team this coming season.

AHL switches Jamie Devane goes from Milwaukee to Stockton. Tom McCollum goes from Grand Rapids to Ontario, and San Antonio looks to be an early Calder Cup threat after getting Avon native and Westminster Prep grad, Ben Smith. He leaves Toronto to go to the Rampage. Last season Smith played for both San Jose teams (NHL/AHL), the Sharks and the Barracuda. Both Toronto teams (NHL/AHL) Maple Leafs and Marlies.

Former UCONN player Jason Sims, son of ex-Whaler and Nighthawk Al Sims, signed with Cincinnati (ECHL) for next season. Last year, he played with Evansville (ECHL) and got a last weekend of the season recall to San Jose (AHL). Father Al has coached the first San Jose Sharks team.

Wolf Pack defenseman Calle Andersson’s younger brother, Rasmus, has signed to a three-year, two-way deal with Calgary. They originally drafted him in the second-round, 53rd overall in 2015. He will be in Stockton next season after playing at Barrie (OHL) the last two years. The younger Andersson like Calle is a right-handed shooting defenseman.

Their father Peter, a former Rangers’ player in the 1980’s, has a new coaching gig with Malmo IF in the Swedish Hockey League (AHL) after getting fired last year with HC Lugano (Switzerland-LNA).

Ex-CT Whale Lee Baldwin goes from ESV Kaufburen (Germany DEL-2) to Braehead (Scotland-EIHL).

Quinnipiac sophomore Brayden Scherbinin heads back to Canada to play university hockey with the University of Calgary Dinosaurs (CWUAA) the defenseman had just five assists in two years and played sparingly.

The next batch of NCAA college hockey Frozen Four and regional bids have been accepted last week for the tournament years running from 2019-2022. The first cuts and finalists will be announced on October 28th, and then the finalists to host the hockey regionals and the Frozen Four tournament will be announced by the NCAA on December 7th.

Hartford would be a great location central highway arteries, with plenty of hotels and restaurants in the area. They’d be terrific for a regional, but without a new XL Center, a bid can’t be made.

CANTLON’S CORNER: GUESS WHO’S BACK FOR THE PACK…OR IS HE… PACK OFF-SEASON REPORT

gerry-150x130BY: Gerry Cantlon, Howlings

HARTFORD, CT –  There’s always speculation on a team that didn’t make the playoffs in who’s coming back and who isn’t. The Hartford Wolf Pack have, as most AHL teams do, had some turnover. One player who’s future was an unknown had that question answered this past week.

MALCOLM IS BACK

Last season’s best insurance policy in the Pack net, Jeff Malcolm, has been resigned by the Rangers to an AHL deal for the 2016-17 season.

The question for Malcolm though is, “Will he be in Hartford or Greenville?

Looking at the goalie depth chart with Magnus Hellberg (making $100K-AHL last season), Mackenzie Skapski in the final year of his entry-level deal ($65K-AHL) and rookie Brandon Halverson (starting the first year of a three entry level contract) Greenville seems more likely for Malcolm.

We thought that last season too, but he spent significant time in Hartford early in the year because both Mackenzie Skapski (right hip labrum)i and Cedrick Desjardins (torn right ACL) were coming major surgeries in the off season.

Malcolm spent a better part of the second half as Magnus Hellberg’s backup when Skapski had troubles in net and was dispatched to Greenville was highly respected by his teammates and coaching staff on how he handled the backup role. Malcolm won some significant games including a critical 3-0 shutout in Springfield on March 20th in the Pack’s valiant, but unsuccessful bid to make the Calder Cup playoffs.

Malcolm’s season was ended prematurely in the waning weeks of the regular season suffering a fractured larynx in practice taking a shot similar to Providence Malcolm Subban injury and was rushed to a local surgeon for successful emergency surgery,

Malcolm, is entering amazingly his fourth pro season in 2016-17, and his first three seasons have all been in the Wolf Pack/New York Ranger organization. Last season, he played a career-high 14 AHL games with the Wolf Pack and tied his AHL career best in wins with seven, going 7-5-0 in AHL action. The 6-2, 185-pound Malcolm also established personal AHL bests of a 2.41 goals-against average and a 91.2% save percentage, and registered his first two career AHL shutouts.

Malcolm also appeared in nine ECHL games with the Greenville Swamp Rabbits recording a record of 5-2-2 with a 3.40 GAA and an 89.4% save percentage. Malcolm also played in the ECHL All-Star game.

Originally signed by the Wolf Pack on July 17, 2013, Malcolm has seen action in 31 career AHL games, posting a 15-12-0 record, a 2.78 GAA and a 90.3% save percentage. In 64 total ECHL outings with Greenville, Malcolm is 35-21-6, with a 2.79 GAA, a 91.3% save percentage and one shutout.

Malcolm capped off his four-year Yale career in 2012-13 by backstopping the Bulldogs to their first-ever NCAA “Frozen Four” title in school history. Malcolm was 20-6-2 in 30 appearances for Yale in 2012-13, with a 2.24 goals-against average, a 91.9% save percentage and three shutouts. Those numbers represented the second-highest single-season win total, the third-best save percentage and fourth-lowest GAA in Yale Men’s Hockey history. Malcolm also finished second among ECACHL goaltenders in wins and tied for third in shutouts.

In his four years at Yale, Malcolm appeared in 67 games, amassing a record of 36-21-4 with a 2.60 GAA, a 90.7% save percentage and six shutouts. Those stats rank him fourth all-time in school history in wins, GAA and save percentage.

ON THE MOVE

Former Wolf Pack Alex Krushelnyski, son of former New York Ranger, Mike Krushelnyski, signs an AHL deal with Binghamton.

Former Wolf Pack forward Andrew Rowe, who played for the Bridgeport Sound Tigers where he added seven goals and eight points in eleven games before an injury prematurely ended his season, has signed a one-year AHL deal with them for the upcoming season. The Sound Tigers also signed Finnish goalie Christopher Gibson for a one-year, two-way deal.

Eric O’Dell, who split the year with Rochester and Binghamton, signs with HK Sochi (Russia-KHL). Joining him in AHL’ers heading to Europe include Greg Rallo of Texas who goes to Iserlohn (Germany-DEL) and Drew Shore Stockton to EHC Kloten (Switzerland-LNA). Clark Seymour of Wilkes-Barre/Scranton to HC Bolzano (Italy-AEHL).

The AHL to Euro list now stands at 70.

Ex-Pack defenseman Vladimir Denisov re-signs with Traktor Chelyabinsk (Russia-KHL).

Former Sound Tigers goalie in 2005-06, Frederic Cloutier, goes from Kookoo (Finland Division-1) to Asiago AS (Italy-AlpsHL).

Ex-Pack and Sound Tiger, Mark Lee, split last year between Italy (SHC Fassa) and Denmark (SonderjyskE) signs with ETC Crimmitschau (Germany DEL-2).

Ex-CT Whale, Shayne Wiebe, leaves EHC Olten (Switzerland-LNB) for HC Val Pusteria (Italy-AlpsHL).

Former Quinnipiac Bobcat and Sound Tiger, Mike Dalhuisen, goes from Esbjerg(Denmark) to Torpedo Kamenogorsk (Russia-VHL).

Former Salisbury Prep player Kevin Quick goes from Nottingham (England-EIHL) to Beijing to play for the China Dragon in the ALIH (Asia League Ice Hockey) team.

Several new assistant coaches were named in the AHL this week. Ex-Sound Tiger Jay Leach and Trent Whitfield join Kevin Dean’s staff in Providence. Leach comes over from Wilkes-Barre/Scranton and Whitfield from Calgary (WHL). Leach was a captain with Providence and when he played at Providence College. Whitfield was also a P-Bruins captain and AHL All-Star selection finished his playing career in Portland wearing the “C” as well.

Chris Taylor from Rochester and JD Forrest (EC Salzburg-2 in Austria) become a part of Clark Donatelli’s staff in Wilkes-Barre/Scranton.

Jason King was named an assistant with Utica moving over from St. John’s where he spent the last three years, two of them as an assistant coach and the final year as the Director of Hockey Operations.

The defending Calder Cup champion Lake Erie Monsters will enter their tenth year this upcoming season and drop the Lake Erie name and become the Cleveland Monsters. After the poor run both on and off the ice as the Cleveland Barons they adopted the Lake Erie prefix and have become one of the best franchises in the AHL. They join a city of champions along with fellow tenant at Q, the NBA champion, Cleveland Cavaliers.

AHL switches have seen Albany lose two defensemen, Brandon Burlon, who signs with Tucson and Dan Kelly signs with San Jose.

Mike Angelidis, Syracuse’s captain the last four years and who had some memorable battles against the Wolf Pack, heads West and signs an AHL deal with Stockton.

Former Yale defenseman Gus Young goes from San Jose (AHL) to Chicago (AHL).

Going from Stockton, after spending half the year in Adirondack (ECHL) and Charlotte, is forward Mitch Heard.

American International College (AIC) who play in the Atlantic Hockey Conference (AHC) in Springfield is leaving the West Springfield Olympia Arena and will make the MassMutual Center their new home starting this fall along with the AHL Springfield Thunderbirds.

AHL teams will be wearing their white uniforms at home until Christmas break and then switch to the darker uniforms after the holidays. The Wolf Pack will also be unveiling new jerseys to mark their 20th anniversary season.

Wilkes-Barre/Scranton has unveiled a new look as their parent team of the defending Stanley Cup champion Pittsburgh Penguins and they will adopt the Penguins look from their Stanley Cup winning era in 1991 and 1992.

AEG, the former operator of the XL Center, continues their restructuring of their worldwide hockey portfolio. Here in the states, they were replaced as the building operator of the Ontario Citizen Business Bank Arena. They had a ten-year run that’s started in October 2008 when the building opened at a cost of $150 million. SMG also runs the Ontario (CA) Convention Center and signed a five-year deal with a five-year option to start managing the facility. The deal became effective on July 1st.

AEG will still own and operate the AHL Ontario Reign. They did divest themselves of the ECHL Manchester Monarchs to the Boston-based PPI Sports LLC after 16 years. The Monarchs were in the AHL for 15 years winning their lone Calder Cup in 2015, their last year in the AHL. The organization flipped their franchises as part of the creation of the AHL Pacific Division. The ECHL Monarchs were the ECHL East Division champs last season.

The Kings will still be their ECHL affiliate next season, but are no longer under their umbrella. They could see a change in affiliation in a few years as part of the overall minor league restructuring that has been underway the last two years. The NHL/AHL/ECHL, 31/31/31 (eventually 32/32/32) model will marry the franchises and keep them closer to each other to reduce overall costs in travel and salary as part of the current NHL-CBA agreement.

AEG shut the doors of one of their two German DEL teams, the Hamburg Freezers in June, who drew over 9,000 per game.

One-time AHL Eddie Shore winner, Andy Delmore, goes from the University of Windsor (OUAA) to Toledo (ECHL) to be their assistant coach.

In a big collegiate move, Quinnipiac University (ECACHL) scored a transfer coup as Boston University’s (HE) Brandon Fortunato will become a Bobcat after sitting out the mandatory NCAA one-year transfer waiting period in 2017-18. He is still eligible to play junior hockey in the USHL since he doesn’t turn 21 until next June. The Fargo Force (USHL hold his rights 2014) still have his rights. He was originally drafted by Green Bay (USHL) in 2012 and the following year by Vityaz Podolsk in the KHL Draft.

SUMMER HOCKEY

The US squad at the Ivan Hlinka tournament in the Czech Republic and Slovakia captured silver despite losing 4-3 to the host Czech Republic. The US squad received a strong performance from Cayden Primeau in net with 33 saves. The trophy returned to the host country for the first time in nine years that Canada didn’t win.

The US team advanced to the semifinals beating the Czechs 4-2 on the strength of a Ryan Poehling hat trick. Primeau, the son of ex-Whaler Keith Primeau, made 24 saves.

Poehling played this year at Lakeville H.S. in Minnesota where the assistant coach is former Wolf Pack defenseman, Jake Taylor.

The American team knocked off the Russians 4-3 in overtime in the semi-finals overcoming three one-goal deficits. Primeau was named the game MVP with 38 saves.

The Wolf Pack’s current assistant coach and assistant GM, Pat Boller, is one of the team’s assistant coaches.

At the Five Nations Tournament, that’s being held in Frisco, Texas – where the temperature outside was 105-107 degrees with a heat index of 112 or better – made being in the ice arena the place to be.

The American squad won the tournament for the second season in a row . The team went undefeated (4-0-0) and beat Germany 9-2 while outshooting their opponents, 54-13. They outscored the opposition 31-6 over the four games.

The team features some familiar names of sons of ex-Whalers.

Christian Krygier, the son of Whalers/UCONN/Nighthawk fame, Todd Krygier, earned two assists in the final game and had five points over the four games all assists.

Jack Drury, the son of Ted Drury and nephew to the Rangers Director of Player Development, Chris Drury of Trumbull, scored his first goal of the tournament along with four assists.

The US U-17 squad beat Switzerland 6-2 in the first game.

Krygier earned two assists in the first game while Drury picked up an assist.

In their second game, the US crushed Slovakia 10-1 at the Dr. Pepper Arena with Drury providing three assists and Krygier adding a helper.

The American squad then beat the Czech Republic 6-1 in the third game. Drury picked up another assist.

Both Drury and Krygier will play US junior hockey in the fall. Krygier will play with Lincoln (USHL) while Drury with Waterloo (USHL).

The team GM is Ken Rausch (Danbury) who played high school hockey at Immaculate High.

The Czech team features defenseman Zack Malik, son of former Whalers, Rangers and Beast of New Haven defenseman, Marek Malik.

The Canadian team had ex-New Haven Senator Darren Rumble as one of their assistant coaches.

ISLANDERS SAGA

The soap opera that is the New York Islanders and the Nassau Coliseum got a bit more interesting last week.

The New York Post reported that secret talks are underway for the possible return to the Coliseum. A Chief Nassau county official neither confirmed or denied that on the possibilities. Read the latest saga HERE!

CANTLON’S CORNER: WOLF PACK OFF-SEASON WEEK 10

gerry-150x130BY: Gerry Cantlon, Howlings

HARTFORD, CT – This past week and the week ahead are perhaps the business and maybe even the most important couple of weeks for teams in the National Hockey League. It’s not an exaggeration to say that many times Championships are won and lost as the General Managers build their respective teams and their farm system during this time frame. Continue reading

CANTLON’S CORNER: WOLF PACK OFF-SEASON – VOLUME 11

gerry-150x130BY: Gerry Cantlon, Howlings 

Hartford, CTIt was a very busy week for NHL executives and lots of it involved players with connections to Connecticut and the New York Rangers’ organization.

FREE AGENT WRAP

It was a wild and wooly week of player movement in both the NHL and AHL as some teams made some terrific moves to improve themselves and some real head-scratching moves in a hard salary cap era.

THE RANGERS

As we reported last week, it became official on Tuesday as both defenseman Mat Bodie and forward Nicklas Jensen were re-signed by the Rangers. According to generalfanager.com each player received a one- year/one-way NHL deal for $600K.

Expect an announcement in a few days to come on new deals for forward Marek Hrivik, and defenseman Tommy Hughes.

But getting back to the two signees, Bodie, who ended the year as the Hartford Wolf Pack’s team captain after Ryan Bourque was traded to the Hershey Bears, enters his third year in the Connecticut state capital.

Jensen came to Hartford from the Vancouver Canucks in a trade for Emerson Etem in January. It was the best deal by the Rangers all year as Jensen spearheaded a resurgent Wolf Pack. Unfortunately, that run came up short as the team missed out on the playoffs by four points. Jensen, a Denmark native, turned a lot of heads with a superb performance in the World Championship tournament following the conclusion of the Wolf Pack season.

THE WOLF PACK

Not having much in the way of salary cap room left The Rangers mostly sitting out of the ruckus of a crazed free agent marketplace. The team did make two deals and both were for new defensemen.

At the AHL level, the most active teams were the San Antonio Rampage, the Tucson Roadrunners, the Chicago Wolves, the Hershey Bears, the Albany Devils, the Syracuse Crunch, and the Iowa Wild. All of them handed out some hefty contracts.

TJ Brennan, two-time Eddie Shore winner left the Toronto Marlies and went to the Lehigh Valley Phantoms. Brennan received a two-year deal for $625K per season. That’s NHL money.

The Wolf Pack will see Westport, CT native, Mike Paliotta when the puck drops for the 2016-2017 season. Paliotta played high school prep hockey at Choate and is coming off a splendid season with the Calder Cup Champion, Lake Erie Monsters. Paliotta received a one-year, two-way deal paying $650K in the NHL and $70K in the AHL.

Adam Clendening, who split last season with the Pittsburgh Penguins and the Edmonton Oilers, and who had a brief stay in Wilkes-Barre/Scranton with the Penguins, signed a great deal. He has a one-year, two-way deal that pays $600K in the NHL and $300K at the AHL.

The Rangers now have fifteen defensemen in their organization.

The team is currently searching for a new Assistant Coach after Jeff Beukeboom was promoted to New York to replace the departed Ulf Samuelsson, who left to become the new Head Coach of the AHL’s Charlotte Checkers, the top farm team of the Carolina Hurricanes, which is run by his good friend and former teammate, Ron Francis.

SCHOENFELD WINS AHL EBRIGHT AWARD

Hartford GM Jim Schoenfeld earned the highest honor an AHL Executive can receive when it was announced that he’d won the Thomas Ebright Award.

Schoenfeld recently completed his 13th season as the Wolf Pack’s GM, and continues to play a key role in developing the organization’s prospects, and also served as the chairman of the AHL’s Competition Committee in 2015-16. Schoenfeld, who has also had stints in the AHL as a player (Cincinnati, 1973-74) and head coach (Rochester, 1984-85; Hartford, 2005-07), has provided invaluable leadership within the American Hockey League during his career, serving on the Competition Committee and Executive Committee and helping the league develop player safety initiatives.

“The American Hockey League is comprised of 30 teams, all with their own specific agendas. However, it has been refreshing over the years to see all involved put those agendas aside to come together in a decision-making process, that places the good of the League as the number one priority. Although in many ways I feel there are members of the League much more deserving of this award than I am, I must say it is a very good feeling to be well thought of by the group. Special thanks to (AHL President/CEO) Dave Andrews, (Syracuse Crunch President/CEO) Howard Dolgon, (St. John’s IceCaps COO) Glen Stanford and (recently retired long-time Hershey Bears GM) Doug Yingst.” Schoenfeld said via e-mail. The Pack GM is attending the birth of another grandchild and therefore was only available via an email.

During Schoenfeld’s tenure as Wolf Pack GM and during his time as head coach, he mentored the team’s all-time winningest coach, the former captain, Ken Gernander. He’s also taught now Charlotte Checkers head coach, Ulf Samuelsson and Montreal Canadiens assistant coach, J.J. Daigneault. Schoenfeld succeeded Don Maloney as Wolf Pack GM, who was relieved of his duties as GM of the Arizona Coyotes at the end of this past season.

The Thomas Ebright Award honors Tom Ebright, the former owner, and governor of the Baltimore Skipjacks and Portland Pirates who passed away in 1997.

AHL DIVISIONAL ALIGNMENT

The AHL has realigned the league once again.

The Wolf Pack will continue to play in the Atlantic Division though minus Portland, which was sold and relocated to Springfield to replace the departed Falcons who have moved to Tucson, Arizona. The new team moniker will be The Thunderbirds.

Charlotte will continue as part of the Western conference and play in the Central Division. The Texas Stars and San Antonio Rampage stay in the Pacific Division but will play 76 games while the rest of the division continues to play just 68 with the dreadful percentage points system remaining in place.

Expect the divisions to be tweaked again next season with the addition of the newest NHL team operating in Las Vegas. Their AHL franchise will likely be out West while Vancouver’s AHL team shifts out West and Binghamton is being relocated. The landing spot of that team seems to look like it is going to be in Belleville.

Division Alignment (NHL affiliate in parentheses)

Eastern Conference  
Atlantic Division
Bridgeport Sound Tigers (NYI)
Hartford Wolf Pack (NYR)
Hershey Bears (WSH)
Lehigh Valley Phantoms (PHI)
Providence Bruins (BOS)
Springfield Thunderbirds (FLA)
Wilkes-Barre/Scranton Penguins (PIT)

North Division
Albany Devils (NJ)
Binghamton Senators (OTT)
Rochester Americans (BUF)
St. John’s IceCaps (MTL)
Syracuse Crunch (TB)
Toronto Marlies (TOR)
Utica Comets (VAN)

Western Conference  
Central Division
Charlotte Checkers (CAR)
Chicago Wolves (STL)
Grand Rapids Griffins (DET)
Iowa Wild (MIN)
Lake Erie Monsters (CBJ)
Manitoba Moose (WPG)
Milwaukee Admirals (NSH)
Rockford IceHogs (CHI)

Pacific Division
Bakersfield Condors (EDM)
Ontario Reign (LA)
San Antonio Rampage (COL)
San Diego Gulls (ANA)
San Jose Barracuda (SJ)
Stockton Heat (CGY)
Texas Stars (DAL)
Tucson Roadrunners (ARI)

RULE CHANGES COMING

There are several rule changes coming to the American Hockey League including a new rule on fighting. It will be under rule 46

Rule 82 (“Icing”)

The current rule on an icing call is that the offending team cannot make player substitutions. The revision to the rule is that the offending team on an icing violation cannot use a time-out to rest their players.

Rule 1.10 (“Ice Cleaning”)

The ice cleaning procedures that are used during promotional timeouts will now also be used prior to overtime during the regular season, replacing the “dry scrape.”

ON THE MOVE

Lots of players on the move who have various Connecticut connections.

Former Pack center Chad Nehring worked hard to grow from a fourth line penalty killer and faceoff specialist and borderline ECHL call-up to a successful AHL scorer who led the Pack in scoring last year, is on the move. At age 27, Nehring is viewed as old by hockey standards and no longer seen as a “prospect” earned himself a nice deal from the Ottawa Senators getting a deal paying $600K should he play in the NHL and $125K for play in the AHL at Binghamton next year.

Another ex-Pack, Jayson Megna, heads to the Vancouver Canucks and the Utica Comets with the same deal he had last season in Hartford, an NHL one-way for one year at a very cap friendly, $600K.

Now former Pack Defenseman, Kodie Curran, who split last year between Hartford and the ECHL’s Greenville Swamp Rabbits heads to Denmark and Esbjerg, the defending champions of the Danish Hockey League.

Chris Mueller, a Pack alum, leaves the San Diego Gulls to sign with Arizona. Mueller’s deal is a two-way, one-year deal. He will likely play in Tucson on a contract that pays $600K in the NHL and $250K at the AHL level.

Christian Thomas, who played with two NHL and two AHL teams last season, including in Springfield, has signed with the Washington Capitals, and will likely play in Hershey with the Bears. He signed a one-year, two-way deal paying $575K in the NHL and $125K at the AHL.

Ex-Pack defenseman Mike Kostka got a $50K raise to stay in Binghamton signing a one-year, two-way deal ($800K-NHL/$325K-AHL).

Former Pack Dale Weise was a big winner in the NHL free-agency chase. The not-shy forward received a four-year $9.4 million deal from the Flyers starting at $2.75M next year.

Goalie Chad Johnson, who made lots of friends with the media while playing for the Pack, heads to his hometown of Calgary where he earned a one-year deal paying $1.7 million.

On his way back to the New York Islanders where he found his NHL game, is one-time Pack forward, PA Parenteau. While in Hartford, he and Weise were almost inseparable. Parenteau gets a one-year deal at $1.25 million.

Ex-CT Whale, Jonathan Audy-Marchessault landed himself a very nice two-year cap friendly, one-way NHL deal from the Florida Panthers at $750K per year.

Ex-CT Whale Brandon Mashinter was rewarded by the Chicago Blackhawks with a one-year, one-way deal paying $575K.

One-time Pack goalie, Al Montoya, will trade Florida shorts for Montreal winter jackets leaving the Panthers for Les Habs. Montoya picks up a one-year deal paying $950K.

Former Sound Tiger Matt Martin hit the jackpot. The Ontario boy heads back to the Toronto Maple Leafs on a four-year $10 million deal.

The biggest winners thus far in free agency were a pair of ex-Sound Tigers. Kyle Okposo gets a seven-year $42 million deal with the Buffalo Sabres while Franz Nielsen heads to Detroit for the next six years earning $5.25M per season.

One-time Sound Tiger goalie, Anders Nilsson, leaves the St. Louis Blues for Buffalo on a one-year NHL deal at $1 million.

Mac Bennett, the nephew of former Hartford Whaler Bill Bennett, got a one-year, two-way with Washington/Hershey (AHL) at $575K-NHL/$250K-AHL.

Brad Malone, nephew of former Whaler Greg Malone and cousin to former Wolf Pack Ryan Malone, signed a one-year, two-way deal with Washington/Hershey (AHL) as well. His deal pays $575K for play in the NHL and $250K in the AHL.

Philip Samuelsson, eldest son of former Ranger, Wolf Pack and Avon Old Farms assistant coach and Whalers great Ulf Samuelsson, who spent part of last year in Springfield and ending the year in Arizona, signed a one-year two-way deal with Montreal/St. John’s (AHL) at ($600K-NHL/$125K-AHL).

Cole Schneider, the former UConn player in their AHC years, signs with Buffalo who acquired him at the trade deadline. Schneider signed a one-year, two-way deal at ($600K-NHL/$300K-AHL)

After ex-Pack and ex-New York Ranger, Fedor Tyutin had the last two years of his contract bought out in Columbus, signed a one-year deal with the Colorado Avalanche at $2 million.

Ryan Bourque resigned an AHL deal with Hershey. The contract gives the younger Bourque another year playing with older brother Chris. The terms were not released.

Former Sound Tiger goalie and Avon Old Farms product, Parker Milner, signs with Hershey on an AHL deal.

Ken Agostino (Yale) get a one-year, two-way deal for Chicago/Rockford (AHL) at $625K-NHL/$125K-AHL.

Former Sound Tiger Joe Whitney won’t be torturing the Wolf Pack anymore. Last season his year was cut short by a broken leg, but Whitney signed a one-year, two-way with Colorado/San Antonio (AHL) at ($600K-NHL/$325K-AHL).

Ex-Pack and ex-Sound Tiger, Micheal Haley, will continue to play with San Jose after signing a one-year, two-way deal at ($625K-NHL/$275K-AHL).

Former Wolf Pack TJ Hensick signed a one-year, two-way deal with Los Angeles/Ontario (AHL) after splitting last year between Charlotte and Utica. Contract details not yet released.

Another former Bulldog, Andrew Miller, leaves Edmonton for Carolina/Charlotte (AHL) signing a one-year, two-way deal ($650K-NHL/$200K-AHL).

A third ex-Yalie, Sean Backman from Greenwich, CT, stays out West with LA/Ontario (AHL) after signing a one-year, two-way deal. Backman’s father is former Nighthawk, Mike Backman. He is brother-in-law to Hamden native and fellow Avon Old Farms graduate, Jonathan Quick. Contract details not yet available.

Former Sound Tiger center, Harry Zolniercyzk, leaves San Diego and signs a one-year, two-way with Nashville/Milwaukee (AHL) for $575K-NHL/$125K-AHL. His stock has gone down every year. He was making $300K in Bridgeport two years ago and last year in San Diego $250K.

Joining Zolniercyzk is another ex-Sound Tiger, Trevor Smith, who comes back from SC Bern (Switzerland-LNA) for a rare two-year, two-way deal at ($575k-$650K-NHL/ $175K-$150K-AHL) with Nashville.

Taylor Beck who played in Bridgeport last season before being traded to San Antonio is on the move again as he receives a one-year, two-way deal from Edmonton/Bakersfield (AHL) where he will earn $650K-NHL/$250K-AHL.

Simsbury native and Westminster Prep grad, Tommy Cross, re-signs with the Boston Bruins with a one-year, two-way deal paying $600K-NHL /$175K-AHL.

One time Quinnipiac Bobcat, Jeremy Langlois, signs an AHL deal with Rockford leaving San Jose (AHL).

Marc-Andre Cliché, who played just six games with the Sound Tigers after a trade with San Antonio, leaves Bridgeport to play for Toronto (AHL) on a one-year deal and contact details yet unavailable.

Former Sound Tiger defenseman, Victor Bartley, who also played games with two NHL and two AHL clubs last year signed with the Minnesota/Iowa (AHL) with a great deal $650K-NHL/$350K-AHL.

Wade Megan, who played at South Kent Prep, signed a one-year, two-way deal with St. Louis/Rockford (AHL) at ($575K-NHL-$85K-AHL) after a strong season in Portland.

The Sound Tigers signed former Quinnipiac Bobcat, Kellen Jones, who played mostly with Missouri (ECHL) last year and got a recall to Bakersfield. His brother, Connor, is expected to re-sign with the Sound Tigers bringing the twins back playing together. Both are the grandsons of former New Haven Blade, Terry Jones.

The Sound Tigers also signed out of Penn State (Big 10) defenseman, Luke Juha, and three others to one-year AHL deals. Besides Juha, another collegiate undergraduate signed in the AHL. Junior, Jamie Phillips of Michigan Tech (WCHA), signs with Manitoba (AHL). That makes 170 Division I players who signed pro deals since the collegiate season ended. That number includes 35 underclassmen.

Former UConn Husky Cody Sharib signed another one-year ECHL deal with the Indy Fuel. West Haven native Mike Peirara resigned an ECHL deal with Reading. Periara played his public school hockey at Notre Dame-West Haven and prep hockey at Avon Old Farms. Peirara’s brother Joe is an assistant coach with UConn.

One-time Sound Tiger, Chad Costello, whose team won a second consecutive ECHL Kelly Cup title, and was both the regular season and playoff MVP, has signed a new ECHL deal with Allen for next season. Joining him is ex-Sound Tiger goalie Riley Gill, who was part of both championship teams as well.

Ex-Pack, Carl Klingberg, leaves the Torpedo Novgorod (Russia-KHL) for EV Zug (Switzerland-LNA) joining ex-Pack and Ranger, Raphael Diaz.

Brendon Nash, an ex-Wolf Pack, goes from HC Kladno (Czech Republic-Division 2) to EC Graz (Austria-AEHL) next season.

Another ex-Pack, Jakub Petruzalek who split last year with Orebro HK (Sweden-SHL) and Dynamo Moscow (Russia-KHL), signs with HC Trinec (Czech Republic-CEL).

Four other AHL’ers join Kodie Curran in heading to Europe. A big catch is Alexander Khohklachev, who leaves Providence for SKA St, Petersburg (Russia-KHL).  Ex-Pack Bobby Sanguinetti leaves Rochester for EHC Kloten (Switzerland-LNA). Danny Hobbs, who spent most of the year with Binghamton and some with Evansville (ECHL), is off SonderjyskE (Denmark-DHL). John Albert goes from Manitoba to Karpat (Finland-FEL).

That makes 39 AHL’ers who are going to Europe thus far.

Ex-Pack, Colby Genoway, returns next season to Medvescak Zagreb (Croatia-KHL). Defenseman, Jerry Pollastrone, who played prep hockey at Salisbury Prep, goes from HC Bolzano (Italy-AEHL) to Vienna (Austria-AEHL) next season.

Binghamton announces its new ECHL affiliate will be the Wichita Thunder.

Former Nighthawk, Eric Dubois, whose son, Pierre-Luc, was just selected third overall in the NHL Draft and signed an ELC with Columbus, is the new assistant coach with Manitoba (AHL). The Moose new head coach is Pascal Vincent, who, along with Dubois, have Mark Morrison, the ex-Nighthawk whose assistant coaching deal with the Moose was extended another year. Dubois was an assistant with Rimouski (QMJHL) last year.

Matt Carkner retires from playing to become the Sound Tigers assistant coach next season.

Quinnipiac University saw Daniel Fritz, who played at Canterbury Prep in New Milford, transfer to Canisius College (AHC).

Three AHL coaching adds/changes: Eric Veilleux is the new head coach for San Antonio after coaching in Norfolk (ECHL) last year. Ex-Whaler, Randy Ladouceur, remains an assistant with the Rampage.

One-time Whaler, mostly an Islander, Derek King, was named an assistant coach with Rockford (AHL) and Utica loses assistant coach Paul Jerrard to Vancouver to be an assistant with the Canucks.

Correction in Off Season Volume 10 we incorrectly stated the new Milwaukee Admirals arena as the Carver Arena. It will be at UWM (University Wisconsin-Milwaukee) Panther Arena. We regret the error.

*Contract info is courtesy of generalfanager.com

KHL IN BEIJING

Former Sound Tiger Tomas Marcinko was one of the first 10 players named to the roster of the new KHL team in Beijing. The team will be called the HC Kunlun Red Star. Marcinko, a Slovak played with HC Pardubice (Czech Republic-CEL) last year.

Joining him is goalie Andrei Markov, who left Rochester last week after signing with Spartak Moscow, but his contract was sold to the team this week.

The new team will play in the 18,000 LeSports Arena formerly called the Wukesong Arena used in the 2008 Summer games in Beijing for basketball and will be the largest arena in the KHL.

The 2022 Winter Games will be held in Beijing.

Kunlun has three meanings one is martial arts style term, the other refers to the mythical Mt. Kunlun home to mythical gods and creatures and the other refers to the area adjacent to the Gobi Desert near the Tibetan Plateau and is the longest chain of mountains encompassing 1,900 miles, the largest mountain chain in Asia.

Here is the team logo:Kunlun Redstar

AHL ARENA IN LAVAL

The AHL will see more city changes after next season.

One expected move will be Montreal moving their team from St. John’s to a brand new building on the Montreal North Shore in a suburb of Laval. The building will be called, “The Place Bell Centre,’ and it will be run by Evenko Management, the same company running the Bell Centre.

Cantlon’s Corner j returned from a weekend in the city had a chance to check out the progress from last summer. (See pictures).

Much progress has been made with almost all the exterior work done by the fall so they can commence the interior work away from the harsh winters.

summer 2015Summer 2015

Summer 2016Summer 2016

(Photos by Gerry Cantlon)

The construction is being done by Pomerlau Construction and the building sits on the corner of Claude Gagnon and Lucien Paiement Streets with de la Concorde West Boulevard and Cornbusier Boulevard that leads to the nearby major Highway 15.

Toss in the very friendly Metro stop at the Montmorency (Orange line) terminal 25 minutes from downtown Montreal and this building has the potential to be a major gold mine in addition to saving the Canadiens millions in recall finances.

Right across from the building are two empty lots for a surface parking area or small parking garage and space for team offices. The city government of Laval is kicking in $46.3 million (Canadian) for the project and the total cost will be $120 million for a 10,000 seat arena with two smaller public ice skating rinks to be attached.

Ottawa seems to be inching ever closer to announcing it will be moving its team from Binghamton to Belleville, Ontario after this upcoming season. That will place their affiliate 155 miles (249 kilometers) from the Canadian capital city rather than the present 265 miles (426 kilometers).  Factor in the Canadian dollar exchange issue for Ottawa, Vancouver is likely joining them soon. Currently five of the seven Canadian NHL franchises having their farm teams in Canada. Read more about that HERE

Early talk on the location of the Las Vegas team’s AHL affiliate could be in California or Nevada too. Early rumors say it could be in Fresno or Sacramento or nearby Reno.

OLYMPIC QUALIFYING

The last three teams for the 2018 Winter Games in Pyeon Chang, South Korea will be decided September 1-4 in Minsk, Belarus, Riga, Latvia and Oslo, Norway. The host country in each group is the running for the spots.

Nine of the twelve teams are already set while there are an additional twelve countries who will battle for the last three spots.

The groups involved are:

Group D

Belarus, Slovenia, Denmark, and Poland.

Group E

Latvia, Germany, Austria, and Japan

Group F

Norway, Kazakhstan, France and Italy.

Several current and ex-Wolf Pack players are likely to be involved such as Nicklas Jensen (Denmark), Mats Zuccarello (Norway) and Nigel Dawes (Kazakhstan).

 

CANTLON’S CORNER: UCONN’S TAGE THOMPSON READY FOR THE NHL

BY: Gerry Cantlon, Howlingsgerry-150x130

STORRS, CT The long hours and years of hard work are about to pay off for UConn‘s Tage Thompson.

The poised winger, listed at 6’5 has the potential to be drafted in the first round of the NHL’s Entry Draft on Friday night in Buffalo, New York at the First Niagara Center. The draft will be broadcast on NBC Sports Network starting at 7 pm.

The Thompson clan will be all be on hand, including his parents (Brent and Kim), as well as his grandparents. They’ll all be there except for his younger brother, Tyce, who is attending the US-17 Development camp in nearby Amherst. The coach of that team is Hartford Wolf Pack assistant coach, and assistant GM, Pat Boller.

Thompson Action # 3 Agaisnt QUMaybe he’ll be excused to head over to see the big moment?

“It’s very exciting to be projected in the first round,” said Thompson. “I’ve dreamt of it, my entire life, and now it’s starting to become a reality. It’s been a little bit of a whirlwind lately, but we’re hoping for the first round, and we’ll see where Friday takes us. I’ll just be happy whoever selects me,”

At age 18, Thompson has been hard at work in the off-season, weight training, and following a nutritional plan to add some weight to his already impressive size.

“I’d say I’m in pretty good shape right now.  I’ve been training all summer; I was up at UConn during May, and I can feel myself getting stronger, putting on some weight. I think I am ready for this. I’d like to be between 200 and 205 [pounds] before the (Hockey East) season starts. Right now, I’m at 195.” Thompson said.

Last year playing as true freshmen, he formed one of college hockey’s most potent power play combos with center Maxim Letunov. Thompson led the nation in power play goals with 13, en route to posting a total of 14 along with 18 assists in 36 games. Thompson has the ability, as big as he is, to consistently find a way to be in the right position to release his rocket of a shot.

“It was a natural connection,” Thompson said of playing with Letunov. “We knew Thompson Action #2 Against SHUwhere each other was and playing with him helped me as a player.”

Thompson is currently a resident of Orange, Connecticut. He grew up in a hockey environment. His father, Brent, was a former, Wolf Pack defenseman who had a 14-year pro career. Currently, the elder Thompson is the head coach of the AHL’s Bridgeport Sound Tigers, the New York Islanders’ top farm team. Having a father with Brent’s experience and teaching ability has been a great lifelong resource at his disposal that few others rarely have.

“It’s obviously helped so much to have a father who has played the game and is now into coaching. He’s been around the sport his entire life and growing up with him helped show me what it takes to get there. He’s given me advice that’s had a huge impact on my game and development. And his competitiveness is definitely a part of who I am as a player.” remarked Thompson.

Brent is on his second tour of duty as the head coach of the Sound Tigers. He played 121 NHL games in his career and took part in 635 AHL games, of which 153 were with the Wolf Pack in their first two seasons. Brent was a second round pick, 39th overall, in 1987 by the L.A. Kings while playing for the Medicine Hat Tigers (WHL).

Thompson has his father’s frame but a bit more angular than bulk, but his hockey idols give a key to his mindset.

He admires Evgeni Malkin of the Stanley Cup Champion Pittsburgh Penguins, as well as Jeff Carter (LA) and Jamie Benn (Dallas Stars). Certainly not a bad trio to emulate.

Thompson will be among several second generation players likely to be drafted in the first round. One of those will be Alexander Nylander, (Missuagua Steelheads OHL), the son of ex-Hartford Whaler and New York Ranger, Michael Nylander. Another is Logan Brown (Windsor Spitfires, OHL) the son of former NHL’er Jeff Brown, and Matt Tkachuk, the son of 19-year veteran Keith Tkachuk. The younger Tkachuk scored the Memorial Cup winning goal in OT for the London Knights (OHL) and of course Kieffer Bellows, the son of Brian Bellows, from the USNDTP (US National Development Team Program). Bellows will attend Boston University in the fall.

Thompson Action # 1 Agaisnt BrownThompson also has had access to the hockey community over the years including his father’s trusted assistant coach and West Haven native, Eric Boguniecki, who played his prep school hockey at Gunnery and Westminster and had been invaluable to him.

“He has played the game in the NHL (178 games, and 341 points in 351 AHL games) and I’ve been able to talk with him to get advice on certain aspects of the game that you could only get from somebody with experience,” Thompson stated.

Thompson came to UConn via the USNDTP program which now operates out of Plymouth, Michigan. He plays in the Junior A USHL (United States Hockey League) and a fellow former teammate and Connecticut native from Ridgefield, Chad Krys; a defenseman who’s also a projected first round pick. Krys is heading to Boston University, and the two have been training together.

“We have been working out down here (Fairfield County), and he is top flight player himself,”

As tempting as it might be, even in jest, there haven’t been any side bets on who gets drafted first between the two pals.

“No, no,” Thompson said with a laugh. “I wish him the best.“

The two were at the NHL Combines, for a strictly off the ice, dry land situation, and no skating in the evaluation process.

“For the first few days, we met with all the teams, interviewed with their staff and so on so they could have an opportunity to get to know you,” Thompson said. “Then they put us through all sorts of tests, like the long jump, vertical leap, stuff like that. There was no skating at all, just all off-ice things.”

The decision to go to UConn as a true freshman last year was not an easy decision for the then 17-year-old when he arrived at Storrs.

“There was a certain wow factor playing against 24-year-old men. There was an adjustment to that, and I got more comfortable as the year went on.”

UConn head coach Mike Cavanaugh’s trust in his prized freshmen on one of the youngest Division I teams in the country, was not unnoticed by Thompson.

“I’m in a really good spot here at UConn They’ve given me many opportunities to be successful. I feel comfortable with the coaching staff, my teammates, and I feel like we’re going to have a solid team next year. Coach showed his faith in me by trusting me, even though I was young coming in. There were growing pains he had to work with (with me) along the way.”

In addition to the joy coming tomorrow night, Thompson was selected on Monday to take part in next month’s trip to Michigan as a part of the 42 player World Junior Championship Evaluation Camp. The highly regarded Christmas time (December 26-January 5) tournament will be held in Toronto and Montreal this year. The Pool A Group the US is in will play in Toronto and games at the Air Canada Centre.

Thompson, who has dual citizenship, said college, not Canadian major junior, was the preferred route for him and that he will be back for his sophomore season at UConn, only he’ll return with an NHL jersey to sport with his name on it.

NOTES:

Thompson’s teammate, defenseman Joseph Masonius (Spring Lake, NJ), is also draft eligible. Masonius was also named to the WJC Evaluation Camp next month.

The last time the NHL Draft took place in Buffalo was in 1991 and was held in the old Aud. That year, there were two Connecticut natives drafted. The first was Mike Pomichter of North Haven. He played at Boston University and was chosen by the Chicago Blackhawks in the second round. The other selection was former Wolf Pack, Todd Hall. He was taken by the Hartford Whalers in the third round out of The University of New Hampshire.

Thompson’s linemate, Letunov had his NHL rights dealt for the second time on Monday as the Arizona Coyotes sent his rights to the San Jose Sharks along with a 2017 6th round pick for the Sharks 2016 4th round pick this year and 3rd round pick next year.

Letunov was originally drafted by the St. Louis Blues in 2014 in the second round, 52nd overall. St. Louis sent Letunov to Arizona for D Zybnek Michalek and last year’s third-round pick.

The 6’2 swift skating and puckhandling Russian came to UConn after changing his mind and rescinding his commitment to Boston University. He was named to the All-Hockey-East Rookie Team and selected to the All-Conference second team. Letunov set the Huskies record for regular season points.

Letunov played US junior hockey with the Youngstown Phantoms (USHL) and then the Swift Current Broncos (WHL) selected him in the first round, 36th overall, in the 2014 CHL Import Draft. The Moscow native saw the Russian team, Salavat Yulaev, select him in the KHL Draft in 2013.

Enfield native Robbie Baillargeon might have achieved a college hockey first. As a graduate transfer from Boston University to Arizona State, under current NCCA guidelines, Baillargeon can play this season only as an undergraduate or would have to wait a year. Grad transfers have happened in football and college baseball.

In Hockey East news, goalie Patrick “Packy” Munson has left the University of Vermont and headed back home to Minnesota. Rumors were that he was going to transfer to the Minnesota Golden Gophers, but he decided on the University of Denver.

Two more underclassmen from college hockey have signed with NHL clubs this week.

Boston College lost big defenseman Ian McCoshen to the Florida Panthers, and would likely see him start the season with the Springfield Thunderbirds (AHL).

RW Nick Schmaltz of the national champion, the University of North Dakota Fighting Hawks (nee Fighting Sioux), has signed with the Chicago Blackhawks and will start next year with the Rockford IceHogs (AHL).

Jimmy Vesey of Harvard could be a third to sign an NHL deal. The much-heralded left-winger has his four-year degree in hand. He had his rights traded from the Nashville Predators to the Buffalo Sabres, who gave up a third round pick. Vesey has elected under the CBA rules to become a free agent, so Buffalo enters the same sweepstakes as the rest of the NHL to win his rights. Toronto is one of the biggest players in that pursuit and just made his father Jim Vesey, a team scout after drafting his brother Nolan (University of Maine) last year, The Rangers and Boston Bruins are both considered to be players in the Vesey Sweepstakes.

35 Division 1 underclassmen have signed professional deals thus far, 143 players in total have departed for the pro ranks since the end of last year’s collegiate season among the five college hockey conferences.

North Dakota, Michigan, and Boston College have lost the most with five underclassmen each.

Former Yale Bulldog, and Bridgeport Sound Tiger, Jesse Root, heads overseas to HC Bolzano in Italy. HC Bolzano plays in the Austrian Elite League. Root spent most of the last year with the Missouri Mavericks (ECHL) and just seven games in Bridgeport.

At the US U-17 Select Camp, Pat Boller is not the only HWP connection. As mentioned, Boller is the head coach, but one of the goalie coaches is none other than ex-Wolf Pack, Phil Osaer. The Team’s GM is Danbury native, Kenny Rausch, who played at Immaculate High School. Besides Tyce Thompson, one other Connecticut prep school player invited was Ben Mirageas of Avon Old Farms.

Our condolences on the passing of Michigan State’s great head coach Ron Mason, who dies earlier this month at age 76. Munn Ice Arena in East Lansing, MI was the site of the memorial service and honored the second all-time winningest coach in college hockey history (Jerry York BC is tops). Mason had a career record of 924-380-83. Mason also coached at Lake Superior State and Bowling Green University and played at St. Lawrence University in the early 1960’s.

His son-in-law was Shawn Walsh of the University of Maine and his grandson, Travis Walsh, just graduated from Michigan State. Travis went undrafted and played three games apiece with the Missouri Mavericks (ECHL) and the Chicago Wolves (AHL). Tyler Walsh is an assistant coach with the USNDTP U-18 Team.

Photos Courtesy Of UConn Athletic Department

CANLTON’S CORNER: WOLF PACK OFF-SEASON VOLUME 5

gerry-150x130BY: Gerry Cantlon, Howlings

THE AHL BACK IN SPRINGFIELD

HARTFORD, CT – A little over a month has gone by since the Springfield Falcons were sold to the Arizona Coyotes and moved to Tucson, AZ. Incredibly, AHL hockey will continue in the city with the Florida Panthers as the parent team for at least three years starting in the fall.

The league’s Board of Governors formally approved the sale of Springfield late last week. They removed the conditional status upon getting a lease approved and renovations approved to the Tucson Convention Center was key to their deal and the deal in Springfield.

Monday, the sale of the troubled Portland Pirates was officially approved to Springfield Hockey, LLC by the AHL BOG.

Here is the Florida Panthers news release HERE.

HERE is the Springfield take on the announcement made Monday after the BOG approved the sale to Springfield Hockey LLC after being awarded their franchise. The investors have yet still to be publicly identified, but Cantlon’s Corner learned a month ago that former Falcons’ owner, Charles Pompea and the face of Springfield hockey the last 35 years, Bruce Landon, are among those that are involved. Among the others to be involved, don’t be surprised if MGM-Springfield, who begin running the Mass Mutual Center on July 1st from Spectra, will participate in some manner. Continue reading

CANTLON’S CORNER: WOLF PACK AHL OFF-SEASON VOLUME 4

gerry-150x130BY: Gerry Cantlon, Howlings

HARTFORD, CT – The AHL’s Final Four teams are set.

It took seven games, but the team with the league’s best record, the Toronto Marlies prevailed with a late goal in Game 7 to win 4-3 and eliminate the Albany Devils.

The Marlies were the deepest and most talented team entering the playoffs and were tested in every way in Game 7 and throughout the series with Albany.

Tied at one entering the third period, Albany scored early as Nick Lappin,  just signed out of Brown University after the collegiate season ended in March, scored his fifth of the postseason on a rebound after Jim O’Brien on a face off.

Before a packed crowd at the Ricoh Coliseum, Kasperi Kapanen, son of Whaler great Sami Kapanen, showed off his incredible speed by zipping down the left wing and whistling a wicked wrist shot to the short-side on Devils’ goalie, Scott Wedgewood.

William Nylander, son of former Whaler and New York Ranger Michael Nylander, employed his considerable skill and raced into the Devils zone. Nylander curled in the lower left-wing circle and found Kapanen again as he was open on the left wing. Kapanen waited and found Connor Carrick coming off the right point and hit him with a perfect cross-ice pass and he zipped his shot to the top shelf to take a 3-2 lead.

The Devils didn’t go away as Paul Thompson, a right-handed shot on the left wing side, took Marc-Andre Gragnani’s right point pass and drilled it to the short-side past a partially screened Antoine Bibeau.

Marlies veteran Richard Clune got a fortuitous bounce off the backboards of Andrei Soshnikov’s shot and chipped the puck into the top part of the net with 2:30 left in regulation for the game-winning goal.

The Devils had three whacks at the puck in the waning seconds, but Bibeau was down of the ice and kept his pads stacked to preserve the 4-3 win.

The Marlies will play the Hershey Bears featuring the Bourque brothers, Chris, and Ryan in the Eastern Conference final starting with Games 1 & 2 in Hershey Friday and Saturday night. The series will see a rare schedule of 2-3-1-1 format because of building scheduling issues in Hershey with the circus.

What a difference a year makes by the way.

Despite a strong regular season for Albany, Yann Danis has been the backup this playoff after his spectacular run last spring with the Wolf Pack and played just one period in relief of Wedgewood.

It took seven games and overtime for the Hershey Bears to advance.

Dustin Boyd’s goal at 10:58 gave Hershey a 3-2 over their Keystone State rivals, the Wilkes-Barre/Scranton Penguins.

Boyd swung around from behind the left-wing side and fired his shot high to the short side earning the Bears the victory.

Hershey took a 2-1 lead on what certainly has to be among those considered for the Goal-Of-The-Year.

Carter Camper made a great move to free himself then made a beautiful forehand-to-backhand move on Casey DeSmith to score the goal.

The Pacific Division series ended in Ontario Saturday night with the Reign winning 2-1 and advancing in five games to the Western Conference title.

Justin Auger had the game winner in the 2-1 Game 5 clincher.

The San Diego Gulls had just one win, a 3-0 shutout in Game Three.

Matt Hackett is the nephew of a former winner of the Calder Cup’s Jack Butterfield Award as the MVP of the playoffs. His uncle is also a goaltender. He’s Jeff Hackett, who played for Springfield in 1990. They younger Hackett pitched a shutout with 29 saves.

The Reign won Game 4 in overtime. The final score was 4-3 despite a strong three-point performance by ex-Hartford Wolf Pack, Chris Mueller.

Mueller set up rookie Shea Theodore on the powerplay with a perfect cross-ice pass from the right wing circle to Theodore at the left point for the first goal of the game.

Mueller potted a goal to tie the game at two from the left side of the net. The shot came off a rebound off the stick of AHL All-Rookie team member, rearguard Brandon Montour, who outworked Ontario captain Vincent LoVerde and jammed the puck home.

The Reign went ahead with two quick goals at 3-2 in a 1:52 span both by Adrian Kempe. Mueller scored ten seconds later going down the left wing side and turned Nic Dowd inside out and beat the league’s best in netminder Peter Budaj, but like last spring in Manchester when they were the Monarchs, the Reign found a way to get the game winner in overtime.

The Lake Erie Monsters looked to complete the sweep of the Grand Rapids Griffins after amassing a 3-0 series lead.  The Griffins, however, fought back to make it to a game six, but the Monsters overtime victory prevented a Game 7 by the count of 4-3. The Monsters will now play the defending AHL Calder Cup champions, the Ontario Reign in the Western Conference final starting Saturday with Game 2 Sunday in California.

Lake Erie was down early 2-0 in the first 2:16 of the game and that became 3-1 early in the second. When that happened, the Monsters replaced starting goalie Joonas Korpisala, with veteran and former Springfield Falcon goalie, Anton Forsberg and he shut the door stopping all 23 shots he faced.

Zach Werenski, the young defenseman just signed out of Michigan after their season ended a month ago, helped in engineering the Monster’s comeback.

Werenski set up Lukas Sedlak’s goal early in the second period with a right point shot. Sedlak chipped in a backhand rebound. Werenski, had the game-winner at 12:32 of overtime getting his rebound of a backhand shot and with four Grand Rapids players all nearby, Werenski got to the loose puck, and he put his second backhander in for the victory.

Had there been a seventh game, it would have been played in Columbus because the NBA Cleveland Cavaliers had a playoff game scheduled for Tuesday the same night that would have forced a date and venue change.

The Griffins rallied from a 4-1 deficit in Game Four with a three-goal third period to win 5-4 and avoid the playoff sweep. Anthony Mantha had a goal and an assist.
Five different Grand Rapids players scored with Andreas Antanasiou tallying the game-winner with 1:55 to go in regulation.
Game 5 was all Grand Rapids a 6-1 win paced by a Tyler Bertuzzi hat trick.

STANLEY CUP PLAYOFFS

French Connection II watching ex-CT Whale Jonathan Marchessault setting up former Ranger Anton Stralman to tie the game at two in Game 2 Monday night. Then Jonathan Drouin, banished to Syracuse in the AHL at midseason, sniping a goal off the right side to tie the game at two.

WORLD CHAMPIONSHIPS

The Pack’s Nicklas Jensen continued the same strong play he showed down the stretch in Hartford’s failed playoff push helped Denmark engineer an upset win over the Czech Republic 2-1 in a shootout.

Jensen helped Denmark engineer an upset win over the Czech Republic 2-1 in a shootout.

He assisted on the game-tying goal, and he scored a shootout goal to keep Denmark alive in the extra round before Nikolas Ehlers scored the game winner.

Monday, Denmark beat Kazakhstan 4-1 with Jensen scoring again and had seven shots on goals, and the Danes secured a quarterfinal appearance because the Swiss lost 5-4 to Czechs on Tuesday. Last Friday, he scored his second goal, a shootout goal, to lead Denmark to a 3-2 win over Latvia. In six games he has five goals (tied for fourth in goals scored with Tomas Plekanec Czech Republic/Montreal) and seven points for the Danes.

Last Friday, Jensen scored his second goal, in the shoot-out to lead Denmark to a 3-2 win over Latvia. In six games he has five goals (tied for fourth in goals scored with Tomas Plekanec Czech Republic/Montreal) and seven points for the Danes.

The quarterfinals start Thursday Denmark plays Finland in St. Petersburg.

Ex-Pack Nigel Dawes continues to do well for Kazakhstan he scored the lone goal in a 3-1 loss to the Czech Republic on Friday and again in a loss to Denmark. He has eight points with four goals, good for tenth place in the tournament.

The best scoring defenseman still in the tourney is the Wolf Pack’s Raphael Diaz with six assists for Switzerland. Diaz played the most minutes (19:14) and had four shots on goal in a crucial 5-4 loss to the Czechs eliminating the Swiss from the medal round.

Ex-Sound Tiger Nino Niederreiter is right behind for the Swiss with three goals and five points.

The second best goalie so far is Canada’s and former Wolf Pack, Cam Talbot. In four games, Talbot has a microscopic 0.75 GAA, given up just three goals, pitched two shutouts and has a spectacular 96.0 % save percentage.

The Czech Republic’s Dominic Furch has a 0.65 GAA and a 97.2% save percentage. His numbers are better than Talbot’s, but he has played in only three games while Talbot’s played four.

Reminds you of Talbot’s AHL playoff debut when he shutout the Sound Tigers in three straight in an opening round series.

The US, despite a two-game slump, made the quarterfinals in Group B.

The US lost to Slovakia 3-2 on Tuesday despite getting the games first goal from ex-Sound Tiger, Brock Nelson.The game-winner came off the stick of ex-Springfield Falcon, Marko Dano.

The US plays the Czech Republic on Thursday in Moscow (9:00 am NBC Sports Network).

RANGERS SIGNING

Much heralded right-wing, and third round pick, 75th overall in 2013, Pavel Buchnevich, inked an NHL entry-level deal with the Rangers last week.

The 21-year-old split the year with his hometown KHL team Severstal Cherepovets before being traded to St. Petersburg. For the season, he had 16 goals and 31 points in 58 games. St. Petersburg made it to the KHL Western Conference final of the Gagarin Cup playoffs.

His three-year standard entry-level contract has an NHL salary of $925K and an AHL salary of $70K, but the contract according to General Fanager-dot-com has a European assignment clause which could mean if he doesn’t make the Rangers he would likely return to Russia.

ON THE MOVE

Former Hartford Whaler, Randy Cunneyworth, was replaced and reassigned from Rochester as the Buffalo Sabres named Dan Lambert (Kelowna-WHL) as their new AHL head coach.

Congrats to another former Whaler and longtime AHL coach, Tom Rowe, who became GM of Florida (NHL) as part of a major Panthers organizational shuffle.

Curiously, Eric Joyce was named as an assistant GM; he was also the GM of the Portland Pirates last year. When Rowe was given his promotion on January 1st to Assistant GM in Florida after coaching the Pirates in the first half of the season.

Joyce retained the title GM of their of their AHL affiliate, but the team remains unnamed in the press release. The move of their member team from Portland to Springfield is still under review by the AHL, which is set to reconvene in ten days on the matter. The sale was made by the local owner Ron Cain to a yet publicly unidentified ownership group, but Cantlon’s Corner has learned former Falcons owner Charles Pompea and long-time face of Springfield hockey, Bruce Landon, are two of the primary investors.

Sam Ftorek, son of former Nighthawk coach and player Robbie Ftorek, was named the first head coach for Roanoke (SPHL). He was the assistant coach for Kalamazoo (ECHL) last year.

Bridgeport Sound Tiger Sebastian Collberg heads back home to play with Rogle BK (Sweden-SHL) next year making him the sixth AHL’er to sign to play in Europe next season.

Ex-Pack Tomas Zaborsky goes from HIFK Helsinki (Finland-FEL) to Brynas IF (Sweden-SHL), nd defenseman Ilkka Heikkinen goes from Vaxjo (Sweden-SHL) to TPS Turku (Finland-FEL).

Old New Haven Knights forward, Alexei Lazarenko, 40, signed for another year with Vityaz Kharkov to play in the Ukrainian Hockey League. He is just one of seven players left actively playing who wore a New Haven uniform between the AHL and UHL.

AEG Europe announced its team the Hamburg Freezers (Germany-DEL) will not operate next season despite an average attendance of 9.002 (tenth best in Europe) last year when they missed the playoffs.

The team GM is former Nighthawk, Stephane J.G. Richer and ex-Pack, Sam Klassen, played on the team. AEG also owns another team in the DEL Eisbaren Berlin who have the second best attendance of all hockey played in Europe with 13,022 per game.

Rich McKenna was hired as the new head coach for the Division III powerhouse University Wisconsin-Superior. McKenna was an assistant coach at both UConn (AHC years) and Wesleyan University. There are thirteen former UConn players and coaches in the coaching ranks nationally collegiately (Division I and III), juniors, and prep and public schools

US JUNIOR HOCKEY PLAYOFFS

Former UConn player, Trevor Stewart, guided his Fairbanks (AK) Ice Dogs to their third NAHL Robertson Cup title after a 2-0 win over Wichita Falls (TX) Wildcats on Sunday in Edina, MN in the national championship game.

Each team won both semifinal games Fairbanks over Aston (PA) Rebels and Wichita Falls over Bismarck (ND) Bobcats.

In the USHL’s best of five Clark Cup Finals, the Tri-City (NE) Storm are up 2-0 over the Dubuque (IA) Fighting Saints. In Game One, Yale-bound Evan Smith scored the first goal of the game for Dubuque,b ut Tri-City scored the next five goals in a 5-1 victory.

Then in Game 2, Tri-City won 4-2. Smith and his twin brother, Mitchell (also heading to Yale) had five and four shots respectively and former prep school teammate at Salisbury Michael O’ Leary, who is committed to Notre Dame had three shots at Tri-City.

Games 3 and maybe 4 are in Tri-City Friday and Saturday.

The 98th edition of Canadian junior hockey’s Memorial Cup tournament is all set to start in Red Deer, Alberta on Friday night as the host team and city Red Deer Rebels (WHL) play the London Knights in the opening game.

The Rebels join WHL playoff champion Brandon Wheat Kings, QMJHL champion Rouyn-Noranda Huskies and the OHL juggernaut winners of 13 straight games London Knights coached by Dale Hunter.

The tourney starts Friday and the NHL Network will air the games live with Red Deer in the Mountain time zone. Saturday Brandon plays Rouyn-Noranda and Sunday Red Deer plays Rouyn-Noranda at 7pm.

If you haven’t watched it you should it’s a fantastic view of some future NHL stars already drafted, those to be drafted and of course new names emerge.

ALLAN CUP

Congrats to the Bentley Generals coached by former Wolf Pack, Ryan Tobler, winning their second consecutive Canadian senior hockey title in beating the tournament host Southeast Praire Thunder in Steinbach, Manitoba.

The Generals also featured former Wolf Pack, Matt St fashion, who scored six goals in four games in the tournament. He played most of his season with Big Valley in the North Central (Senior) Hockey League and was added to the Bentley roster for the post season when Big Valley’s season ended.

Former Sound Tiger Adam Huxley was also on the team and he played for his hometown senior team Wainwright (SASHL) in the regular season and was also added for the playoffs.

CANTLON’S CORNER: WOLF PACK AHL OFF SEASON VOLUME 3

gerry-150x130WOLF PACK AHL OFF SEASON VOLUME 3

BY: Gerry Cantlon, Howlings

HARTFORD, CT The minor league hockey map is changing again as the shifting sands continue.

On Tuesday, the AHL Board of Governors (BOG) met in Chicago and conditionally approved the sale of the Springfield Falcons to the Arizona Coyotes. They also approved the team’s relocation to Tucson, AZ where they will start play in the fall at the Tucson Convention Center (TCC).

The Rio Nuevo Board, which oversees the TCC, approved $3.2 million for use in renovation and upgrades to the TCC. It’s a mere formality. They will become the sixth member of the AHL Pacific Division with the release of conference alignments likely coming in July.

The Tucson City Council is expected to finalize a lease. Once it’s approved, that would be the second hurdle cleared on the way to a full approval from the AHL BOG.

The other sale on the agenda is that of the Portland Pirates.  However to a yet un-named investor group in Springfield was tabled for another two weeks before a vote would take place.

The sale of the Pirates is to an unnamed investor group in Springfield. That move was set aside for another two weeks before a vote will take place.

Two versions have emerged regarding the hold-up.

The first is that the Florida Panthers are steamed about the sale and expected to be in Portland as their affiliation agreement stipulated.  The Panthers are threatening to break the 30-30-30 balance of NHL and AHL teams and eventually the 30 ECHL teams in the new model minor league arrangement.

The other is the local investor group in Springfield needs more to show the financial capabilities for purchasing and maintaining the franchise.

One of the major principals in the sale is former Falcons owner, Charles Pompea, and the former Director of Hockley Operations, and the long-time face of Springfield hockey, Bruce Landon. There is also potentially MGM-Springfield, who will be begin running the Mass Mutual Center as of July 1st.

MGM Springfield needs a team as, Spectra, the soon-to-be former management company of the building, has no bookings of any kind scheduled beyond July 1st.

Meanwhile, Portland has already begun the process to gain entry into the ECHL in 2017-18, the same time when Worcester will make it’s entrance.

In a story, in the Portland Press Herald, (HEREthey identify the Pirates GM this past season Brad Church and C. Godfrey Wood, involved in hockey in the region going back to the WHA Whaler days. Cantlon’s Corner has learned through two sources that Wood’s business partners are none other than the Baldwin boys—Howard, Sr., and Howard, Jr.

The group made a bid for the Worcester (ECHL) franchise in the spring and were denied by the city. They tried again recently with the Portland (AHL) sale and according to a source, “were blown out of the water.” Another source, with long-time hockey connections, when confirming Baldwin and Wood were working together in a bid to gain an ECHL franchise for Portland, said, “there are no two better thieves than those two…look out Portland!”

The Baldwin’s left a trail a debt from their last run in Hartford. The trail was more than $3 million to banks, vendors, employees and even the State of Connecticut while running the CT Whale as Hartford Hockey, LLC and never repaid a dime of the money.

CALDER CUP PLAYOFFS

The Toronto Marlies have begun to demonstrate their offensive firepower in smashing Albany Devils 7-2 and 5-1 in the last two games to take a commanding 3-2 in the series. The Devils forced a game seven with a 4-1 win on Saturday.

In the 5-1 win, Milford native and Yale grad, Mark Arcobello, posted three assists and had five points in the last two games.

Andrei Soznikov’s two goals help engineer the 7-1 drubbing. Connor Carrick, William Nylander, Connor Brown and Sam Carrick have posted multiple-point games in the last two as the depth of the Marlies has been on full display.

What a difference a year makes. Despite a strong regular season for Albany, Yann Danis has been the backup this playoff series. After his spectacular run last spring with the Wolf Pack, he has played just one period in relief of starter, Scott Wedgewood. That appearance came in the 7-1 loss. Wedgewood went the distance in the game six win in Toronto and will likely start Game 7 in Albany on Monday.

Albany defenseman, Dan Kelly, was hit with a ten-game suspension for a wicked elbow to the head of Toronto’s Andreas Johanson in that 7-2 loss. Johanson had a brief stay in the hospital. Kelly’s is out for the rest of the series and will miss seven more playoffs games should Albany win and advance or the rest of the games will be served next season.

It’s the second longest suspension of the year. The longest went to the Ontario Reign’s Kurtis MacDermid, youngest son of former Whaler Paul MacDermid, who got twelve games for an illegal hit to the head.

The Wilkes-Barre/Scranton Penguins won Game 6 6-2 over the Hershey Bears on Friday night. That series will see a Game 7 at 5:00 pm on Sunday.

Game 5 Hershey with an intense third period, rallied past the Penguins with Zach Sill having a goal and two assists for the contest in the 5-3 win.  Ryan Bourque, the former Wolf Pack captain, tallied the empty net goal to seal the win.

Lake Erie looked to finish off and sweep Grand Rapids but was stunned as the Griffins rallied from a 4-1 deficit with a three-goal third period in Game Four to win 5-4. Anthony Mantha had a goal and an assist.

Five different Grand Rapids players scored with Andreas Antanasiou scoring the game-winner with 1:55 to go in regulation. The two teams hook up for Game 5 in Cleveland at the Quicken Loans Arena on Saturday, and the Griffins kept the series alive with a 6-1 drubbing of the Griffins to send it to a Game 6 on Monday night. A Game 7 would be played on Wednesday if it became necessary.

-The Pacific Division saw the Reign close out the San Diego Gulls with a 2-1 win. The Reign have former Wolf Pack center Kris Newbury on their roster. The Gulls feature ex-Pack Chris Mueller and Stu Bickel on their team.

The Gulls had a 3-0 shutout in the last game played on Sunday with Matt Hackett nephew of former Calder Cup Jack Butterfield playoff MVP goalie Jeff Hackett (Springfield 1990) pitching a shutout with 29 saves.

WORLD CHAMPIONSHIPS

Current and former Wolf Pack are making quite the impact at the Hockey World Championships.

The Pack’s Nicklas Jensen continues to play well as he showed down the stretch in Hartford’s failed playoff push.

On Friday, Jensen, who scored during regulation, tallied a dazzling goal in the shootout, to lead Denmark to a 3-2 win over Latvia.  In five games for the Danes, Jensen has four goals and five points.

Ex-Pack and Ranger, Nigel Dawes, is doing well for Kazakhstan. Dawes scored the team’s lone goal in a 3-1 loss to the Czech Republic on Friday. He has three goals and four assists (seven points) in five games. That puts Dawes in a five-way tie for the fourth spot in scoring to this stage in the tournament.

The best scoring defenseman in the tourney thus far is the Wolf Pack’s Raphael Diaz with six assists for Switzerland.

Ex-Sound Tiger, Nino Niederreiter, is right behind Diaz for the Swiss. Niederreiter has three goals and five points.

The best goalie to this stage in the tournament has been former Wolf Pack, Cam Talbot. In four games for Team Canada, Talbot has a 1.00 GAA and a spectacular 94.7 % save percentage.

RANGERS SIGNING

The much-heralded, right-wing and a third round pick (75th overall) in 2013, Pavel Buchnevich, inked an NHL entry-level deal with the Rangers.

The 21-year-old split the season with his hometown KHL team, several Cherepovets, before being traded to St. Petersburg. For the season, Buchnevich had 16 goals and 31 points in 58 games. St. Peterburg made it to the KHL Western Conference final of the Gagarin Cup playoffs.

In what might be a related story, Russian media reports have stated the Rangers have made an offer to former WolfPack/CT Whale defenseman, Pavel Valentenko. The Russian, who had a monster shot, but little control over it while in Hartford, split the KHL season with Avangard Omsk and Spartak Moscow. The expectation is that should Valentenko sign; he would return to Hartford once both sides agree to a deal.

While the Rangers are looking to getting younger in New York, they also want to add more depth on defense, perhaps Valentenko would have something to do Buchnevich, who does not speak any English.

ON THE MOVE

According to Czech media reports, Richard Nejezchleb is close to signing a deal with HC Litvinov in the Czech Elite League (CEL) for next season. Nejezchleb started last season with the Wolf Pack and scored only one goal in thirteen games before being reassigned on November 17th to Greenville (41-8-15-23).

Carl Klingberg, another ex-Pack playing in Russia, has left Torpedo Novgorod. His departure for the KHL, after last season, truly caught the organization off guard. According to reports, the Rangers are making overtures to him.

Former Wolf Pack/CT Whale Chad Kolarik goes from financially troubled EHC Kloten in Switzerland (LNA) to Adler Mannheim (Germany-DEL) next season.

Benoit Groulx, the highly successful QMJHL coach with the Gatineau Olympics, is making a second stab at coaching in the AHL. His first go was for two years in 2008-2010 with the Rochester Americans, but that didn’t end well. On Thursday, Groulx was named the new head coach for the Syracuse Crunch, the top affiliate of the Tampa Bay Lightning.

RANGERS: SUMMER AND SPECULATION BEGINS FOR BLUESHIRTS AFTER ELIMINATION BY PITTSBURGH

Post Game NotesBY: The New York Rangers
CaptureBox Score1CaptureOFFICIAL GAME REPORTS  GOALIES                                                                                           Game Summary                       NYR: H. Lundqvist (L), A. Raanta (ND) PIT: M. Murray (W) Event Summarybanner-team-notes

        GOALS GALORE – New York has registered at least three goals in six of its last seven playoff games on the road, dating back to Game 6 of the Second Round in 2015 against Washington.

        SHOOTING GALLERY – The Rangers recorded 41 shots on goal in today’s contest. The Blueshirts registered at least 40 shots on goal in a playoff game which ended in regulation for the first time since Game 5 of the Eastern Conference Quarterfinals in 2012 against Ottawa. Also, the Rangers recorded at least 40 shots on goal in a playoff game on the road which ended in regulation for the first time since Game 2 of the Eastern Conference Quarterfinals in 1997 against Florida. Continue reading

CANTLON’S CORNER: PACK HEADING DOWN THE HOME STRETCH

gerry-150x130BY: Gerry Cantlon, Howlings

CROMWELL, CT – The Hartford Wolf Pack are ready for their final three-in-three weekend of play.

The action for the Pack begins on Friday night with the start of a home-and-home contest with the Springfield Falcons. On Saturday, the game moves south on I-91 for the regular season home finale at the XL Center.

Sunday, the team, travels to Portland Maine for a critical battle with the Pirates starting at 3 pm. Portland is also in the hunt with for the last playoff spot.

The path to a postseason berth for the Pack got harder when the Utica Comets defeated the Binghampton Senators 4-2 Wednesday night. The Comets (36-27-7-4) have built a six-point lead (83-77) over the Wolf Pack (37-30-3-0).

The Pack’s postseason hopes, dim at best, rests on the hope of making the crossover to the North Division.

If the fifth place team in the Atlantic Division has more points that the fourth-place team in the North Division, then the fifth place team from the Atlantic would cross over and play in the North Division.

Bridgeport is the fifth place team. They are currently in a tie for record and percentage points with Portland. However, the Pirates have the tiebreaker, so they sit in fourth place.

Like the Pack, the Sound Tigers also have three games in three days this weekend. The Sound Tigers are in Hershey Friday night to face the Bears in Allentown. On Saturday, they play Lehigh Valley, and the Phantoms visit Bridgeport Sunday afternoon at 5 pm.

The Syracuse Crunch are the fourth-place team in the North Division; They draw the AHL’s second best team, the Albany Devils on Friday night. If that weren’t enough, they take on the best overall team, the Toronto Marlies on Saturday. The Crunch are at home both nights.

If the Sound Tigers drop all three games and Syracuse lose their two, if the Pack sweep the weekend, they would be still in the hunt, but that is an awful lot of chips that have to fall their way.

Even under a strict conference system if applied, they would have to climb over Utica, Bridgeport, and Portland, who are 7-1-2-0 in their last ten games.

The team spent Thursday working on their in-close play and tried to get their powerplay in synch. That lack of cohesion cost them dearly in Sunday’s 4-1 loss to Portland. Continue reading